When a viewer starts watching a show on a Flingo-enabled TV, the Flingo client calls out to the datacenter to recognize and synchronize with the TV show being watched. The synchronization process takes less than 3 seconds and works for both live broadcast TV and shows watched on-demand.
An app running on an iPad can now connected to the TV over the homes Wi-Fi and immediately begins to receive synchronized updates from the Flingo datacenter containing bonus show material. What sort of things can happen when the iPad app is synched with a show? Flingo is well known for making TV more of a social experience. Using the ACR platform, a viewer can post a quote from the show directly to their Facebook page without the show creator doing anything to enable it.
However, Ashwin knows it is tough to monetize social platforms. A much better approach is through advertising. The same ACR mechanism can also be used to enhance a TV ad. That, of course, is the big win – for advertisers, content providers and Flingo. These synchronized second screen ads are new opportunities to reinforce an ad message and enhance the engagement with the viewer. According to Ashwin, this is the real future of the company. Bringing together advertising sellers and buyers for these new ad opportunities will be the major revenue driver for the company in the future.
There are some challenges for Flingo to overcome before that happens. The company’s ACR platform is currently supported on Sanyo, Hisense, Insignia and Haier smart TVs. To be really successful, however, companies like Samsung and Vizio need to sign on with Flingo to give true scale for the ads. As well, since consumers generally keep TVs for 6-8 years, it could take quite a while for a lot of Flingo-enabled TVs to be available in consumer homes.
Another challenge for the company is defining what the standards are for the new synchronized ads. Ashwin says they are already busy working with the ad industry to “productize” these new ad units but, again, this could take quite a while.
Ashwin is well aware that the course Flingo is set upon will require a long time to come to maturity. He has ensured the company is well funded, receiving $9m in venture funding last February, and that it will continue earning good revenue building smart TV apps. At least for the time being, the company seems well positioned to stay the course.